Sunday, March 22, 2009

Passing It On

With the girls of the house planning a Twilight slumber party, my son and I decided it would be a good time to take our first fishing trip to the mountains with "just the boys".

I had inquired with a friend about a new watershed I had been planning on exploring. As I was about to head south on the interstate, I had a quick change of plans and instead pointed the vehicle east. I could explore anytime but today I wanted the boy to just catch it was off to familiar waters. I had briefly fished this stream last August when I was teaching a friend to fly fish.

On the ride over, while he wasn't sleeping, we had a quick conversation on what we were going to catch. He wanted to know if we were going to catch the fish we had stocked a couple of years ago and he wanted to know if we were going to catch a rainbow trout. I explained that we may catch a rainbow trout and that the brook trout were not stocked and had been there since the ice age. He seemed fine with that and then he went back to sleep.

The weather forecast was for mid-50's but when we left the vehicle the temperature was a chilly 26.

A short hike put us on very nice water. The fishing started out slow but we picked up a nice brookie in one of the pools below a man-made structure. Ross was happy to see the first brookie of the day.

Once we had that first fish under the belt, I started explaining the water and where the fish like to hide. I explained that with the low water temperatures the brookies were holding in the dead water just off the main current.

With that information, I now had a scout moving ahead of me looking for the next good spot. We picked up one more little brookie in holding water Ross had picked out.

Things were off to a good start, so I put the rod in his hands hoping he could hook into his own brookie. Without much practice on the fly rod, I put him fishing a small olive woolybugger downstream.

We took turns on the rod, actually it was mostly me fishing to water he picked out. He scouted ahead of and probably put most of the fish down, but I didn't care as long as he was staying interested.

We fished a short distance upstream before he decided it was time to eat. Looking back, I should have had something in my pack for him to snack on to keep us on the water longer. I gave him a couple of opportunities to continue fishing but it was finally time to head back to the car.

He was concerned that I didn't know how to get back to the vehicle, so I pointed out the blue diamond trail markers and explained they would lead us back to the car. Now it was a challenge to him to spot the next trail marker. This photo was taken on the trail a short distance from the vehicle.
After a quick lunch, he decided he would rather try a different stream as opposed to fishing the same stream again...that's my boy! Before we were off to our next stream, he asked if these streams were catch and release. My first thought was: where did he hear catch and release? I'm sure he has heard me talk about it to someone else and he had remembered it. I told him the streams were not catch and release and his response was "if those brook trout have been there since the ice age, they should stay there". The things kids will say!

We drove downstream then up and over the eastern divide to another stream I know that produces nice brookies. The first section I planned to fish was already taken, so we drove to the bottom end of the stream. We went up a smaller feeder stream but had no luck - only one miss and a lot of scrambling.

I had another stream in mind that produced well a couple of weeks ago. As I was changing out my setup, from the olive woolybugger to the dry/dropper rig that produced a couple of weeks prior. While I was rigging up he went to the bridge to check out the water. I had told him on the other streams that just because we could not see the fish, didn't mean they weren't there and that they hid very well.

While standing on the bridge with him, he looked at the water and asked what would happen if everyone caught all of fish out of the water. I told him that's why I turn everything back, so that someone else can catch the fish too. He said "everyone should turn all the fish back". I like how this kid thinks!

We hit the water and picked up another fish shortly thereafter. Now Ross was ready to give it a try again. He thought he had the casting down and then I explained at the same time you have to watch your fly and tend your line. It didn't sound that easy now but he was willing to give it a try.

The fishing was great, the catching not so good. We fished hard and could not pick up another brookie and Ross was getting hungry AGAIN. This section of stream was in a deep canyon, and nearly straight up to the stream. I gave him the option of following the stream back to the car or climbing the steep hillside to the road...he chose the road. We scrambled up the hill and through the loose scree just below the road. All I could think as I looked back was: there's a junior mountain goat in the family.

I explained that we were very close to Seneca Rocks and we could eat there. He was very interested in seeing this giant rock, so off we went.

Once he saw how big Seneca Rocks was and he could make out the figures on top, he decided he was going to climb it. I had to tell him he was going to climb it by himself because dad is not crazy like the rest of those people stuck to the rock walls.

Before we went back to the stream, we stopped back at the general store so we could put a couple of quarters in the spotting scope and get a better look at those "crazy people" climbing the Rocks. We could count over twenty people either on top or on their way up. He told me one more time that he was going to climb Seneca Rocks and I told him again that it would be without me and that I would be more than happy to meet him at the top (I would hike to the top).

We had time for one more stop, so we went back to the stream just on the east side of the divide. We fished downstream with woolybuggers again but only moved one brookie. When we got to this point, I put the rod in his hands while I took a few photos.

When I had finished snapping off a couple of shots, he was standing on the bank with rod in hand but no bugger. He said the fly "must have come off", afraid to tell me he had probably snagged it in a tree and broke it off. I told him that was OK, I had plenty more.

We walked up another little feeder, just to check it out for future reference. He said this was the most beautiful place he had ever seen.

To get back to the car we had to scramble up another high, steep bank to the road. Again, I thought this kid has a lot of mountain goat in him!

Before we crossed the divide, we stopped so I could show him where the stream comes right out of the ground. The picture is not the greatest, it's quite a distance across the field and even with a telephoto lens it is a difficult shot without a tripod.

We brought the camping gear but with a forecast of temperatures in the low 30's, we opted for a hotel room with a pool and hot tub. What a way to finish the perfect father/son day than with a dip in a pool and a nice long soak in the hot tub.

It was a great day!

Not fishing related, but another moment when I was so proud of my 3rd grader. My wife sent us a text message on the way home that said "good morning boys". I saw the text my son responded with, it said "you too" - with two "o's". I know quite a few adults that don't know the to/too grammar rules, but my 3rd grader does. I think I was more proud of this than I was of the way he performed on the water.

That's my boy!

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